Siam (Thai: สยาม), officially the Kingdom of Siam (Thai: ราชอาณาจักรสยาม) is a sovereign state at the center of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its capital and most populous city is Bangkok. It is bordered to the north by the Kingdom of Burma and the Yunnan Clique, to the east by German Indochina, to the south by the Gulf of Siam and German Malaya, and to the west by the Andaman Sea. Its maritime boundaries include Dutch East Indies and the Bharathiyan Commune on the Andaman Sea to the southwest.
Emergence of the Modern Nation (1868-1910)
Real reform occurred during the reign of Chulalongkorn (Rama V, r. 1868–1910). After his formal enthronement in 1873, he announced reforms of the judiciary, state finance, and the political structure. An anti-reform revolt was suppressed in 1874, after which Chulalongkorn embarked on less radical approaches. In time, he ordered the gradual elimination of slavery and corvée labor. He introduced currency-based taxes and a conscription-based regular army. In 1893 a centralized state administration replaced the semi-feudal provincial administration. The regime established European-style schools for children of the royal family and sent government officials, promising civil servants, and military officers to Europe for further education. The first railroad line was opened between Bangkok and Ayutthaya in 1897 and extended farther north in 1901 and 1909. To the south, rail connections were made in 1903, linking with British rail lines in Malaya. During this time, British and French colonial advances in Southeast Asia posed serious threats to Siam’s independence and forced Siam to relinquish its claims in Cambodia, Laos, and the northern Malay states. Although much diminished in territory by the 1910s, Siam preserved its independence, and the kingdom served as a buffer state between the British and French colonies. During this time, anti-Chinese sentiments came to the fore. About 10 percent of the population was Chinese, and ethnic Chinese largely controlled many government positions, the rice trade, and other enterprises, much to the resentment of the native Thai.
Early Reforms & Coup Attempt (1910-1917)
King Vajiravudh (Rama VI, r. 1910–1925), a Sandhurst-graduated, spent is Crown Prince years reorganized the Siamese military and established military academies. Following his coronation, his first act was the establishment of various western-style modern education centers such as the Royal Pages College and Chulalongkorn Academy for Civil Officials (which later turned into Vajiravudh College and Chulalongkorn University respectively). He also improved Siamese healthcare systems and set up some of the earliest public hospitals in Siam, Vajira Hospital in 1912 and Chulalongkorn Hospital in 1914. Siam also saw the construction of Don Mueang Airport to accommodate its newly created Siamese Air Corps in 1914.
Radicals expected a new constitution upon the coronation of Vajiravudh. However, no constitution was forthcoming. The fall of the old Qing Empire in 1911 prompted Siamese radicals to act. The coup was planned for 1 April 1912 - the traditional Siamese New Years Day. They planned to elevate one of Vajiravudh's brothers to be the first President of Siam. They believed that, if the absolute monarchy were removed, Siam would achieve modernization as in Japan under Emperor Taishō. The coup plan was leaked by an insider and Prince Chakrabongse arrested all the conspirators. Their sentences were severe, ranging from execution to long-term imprisonment. However, Vajiravudh rescinded the punishments and released the plotters, saying that what they did was for the sake of the kingdom.
Siamese participation in the Weltkrieg (1919-1921)
After having considering all possibilities available - Vajiravudh decided that it was the best for Siamese interest to join the Central Powers side in early 1919 by invading French Indochina, getting considerable gains along the front just to be stopped by ceasefire organized by the Germans between the two government gaining back Champassak and Inner Cambodian lands along the Mekong line. The situation against the British in the Malaya and Burma front is however stalemate at its best as neither side had enough resources nor manpower to committed a proper war. The effect of prolonged war against the British and the Siamese drought in 1919-1920 results in rice shortages, plunging its economy down further as Chinese-Siamese Bank went bankrupt in 1921. Siam was only saved by the timely "Peace with Honour" and the amendment of the Bowring Treaty led by Germany to redress the unequal treaties imposed by Western powers in the 19th century.
Post-Weltkrieg Problems (1921-1928)
The last four years of Vajiravudh's reign saw the completion of the North-South railway line from Narathiwat to Chiang Mai and the first cases of Islamic insurgency in its southern province which ended up with his 6 principle declaration emphasizing local freedom and tax measures for Muslim majority area. During the 1925 British Revolution Siam was allowed by the German government to "take care of local unrest" in the Northern half of the British-controlled Malay peninsular.
In 1924, Vajiravudh promulgated his Law of Succession, which has since become the code for Chakri dynasty successions. According to the law, the throne would be passed to the king's sons and grandsons. However, in the case of Vajiravudh who had no sons, the throne would pass to his eldest "true" brother, that is, Prajadhipok(Rama VII) who shared the same mother, Queen Saovabha. In hopes of benefiting the German great economic growth in the 1930s, The new king Prajadhipok began a slow process of market realignment to the Berlin Stock Market which helps to attract foreign German investors, and thus manage to stabilize the economy while avoiding the full effect of the American economic depression.
German Intervention & its aftermath (1928 - 1936)
While Siam has no immediate interest in its western neighbor due to its trauma during the Weltkrieg with the Royal Siamese Army stay idle on the border. However, the unintended shelling of Ratchaburi Hospital1 near the Siamese-Burma in late 1928 by a Mon rebel group did prove to be the last straw which results in the occupation of Burmese Tenessarim area. With the German intervention comes the reestablishment of the Konbaung dynasty in Burma with lots of territories ceded to its various neighbors including Siam who got some of its 19th-century lands back.
With the growing movement among the Siamese intelligentsia calling for the adoption of the Constitutional Monarchy model used by most of the civilized nation - King Prajadhipok aimed to unveiled the first constitution of Siam, the brainchild of both the king himself and Francis Bowes Sayre Sr.(Siam's representative on the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague) on 21th April 1936, the 154th anniversary of Bangkok becoming the kingdom's capital.
Supreme Council of State of Siam
The Supreme Council of State of Siam (Thai: อภิรัฐมนตรีสภา) was an advisory and legislative council established by His Majesty King Prajadhipok of Siam (Rama VII). The Eton and Sandhurst educated monarch wished to create a council similar to a cabinet, where the most important government officials could meet to decide on state affairs. The Council was founded on 28 November 1925 by Royal Command. Prajadhipok only succeeded to the throne three days earlier, after the death of his brother Vajiravudh on the 25 November 1925.
The Council was composed of 5 members, each a prince of the Chakri Dynasty who had held ministerial positions during the reigns of King Rama V and Rama VI (Prajadhipok’s father and older brother). The Councillors were:
|Prince Panurangsi Sawangwong, Krom Phraya Panupanthuwonh Woradet|
|Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand, Prince of Nakorn Sawan|
|Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong|
|Prince Damrong Rajanubhab|
|Prince Kittiyakorn Worralak, Prince of Chanthaburi|
The Council was not the only organ of government at the time. The King also had a Privy Council (Thai: สภากรรมการองคมนตรี) and a Council of Secretaries (Thai: เสนาบดีสภา). However, the Supreme Council was regarded as the most important. Prince Paripatra was the most dominant member of the Council of State since he was then regent and Minister of the Interior.
The Council's establishment by the new king, so soon after the previous king's death demonstrated his lack of self-confidence and the strong grip, held by various members of the dynasty over the running of the government. Prajadhipok was the youngest son of King Chulalongkorn, the youngest prince of his generation. Senior princes (Prajadhipok's uncles and older brothers) have dominated the running of the government since the end of the 19th century and were unwilling to lessen their grip on their power. Prajadhipok acquiesces to most of their demands and was willing to pass off many responsibilities to the council. The appointment of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab to the council also signaled his return to government, after his removal by Vajiravudh from all of his offices in 1915.
Current Siamese setting for KR4 1936 start
|Conscription Law: Limited Conscription|
|Economic Law: Civilian Economy|
|Trade Law: Export Focus|
|Head of Government: King Rama VII|
|Foreign Minister: Mom Chao Traitotpraphan Tevakul|
|Economy Minister: Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong|
|Security Minister: Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand, Prince of Nakorn Sawan|
|Intelligence Minister: Prince Kittiyakorn Worralak, Prince of Chantaburi|
The Royal Siamese Army (กองทัพบกสยาม: Korngthap Bok Sayam) is responsible for protecting the kingdom's sovereignty. It is the oldest and largest branch of the Royal Siamese Armed Forces. The army was formed in 1874, partly as a response to new security threats following the 1855 Bowring Treaty with Britain, which opened the country for international trade.
Fielding quite an impressive panoply of Weltkrieg era surplus, the small but well-equipped army is organized into 5 army areas:
- First Army – headquartered in Bangkok and is responsible for the country's western and central provinces including the capital city.
- Second Army – headquartered in Nakhon Ratchasima and is responsible for the northeastern quadrant.
- Third Army – headquartered in Phitsanulok, responsible for the northern and northwestern parts of the kingdom.
- Fourth Army – headquartered in Nakhon Si Thammarat, responsible for southern parts of the kingdom below the Kra Isthmus.
- Fifth Army - headquartered in Phra Tabong, responsible for the Eastern coast of the Kingdom and the Khamen autonomous area.
The King's Guard forms several separate regiments within these formations.
Separated from the RSA administration in 1887, the Royal Siamese Navy (ราชนาวีสยาม: Ratchanavi Sayam) was mostly dominated by pre-Weltkrieg era British-made destroyers during the war. The RSN lost two destroyers in the Battle of Koh Pha-Ngan against the better equipped British forces and remain inactive until 1921 when the Peace with Honour treaty came into effect.
Aiming to avoid the humiliating defeat ever again; Under Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartivongse, Prince of Chumphon's naval reform in the early 1920s - 3 Matchanu-class submarines, 2 Naresuan-class heavy cruisers, and 2 Mahachakri-class destroyers got added to the fleet. Two more Rattanakosin-class destroyers would be procured in 1929 to replace the older ones. A small marines detachment is also presented.
Royal Siamese Aeronautical Service (กรมอากาศยานทหารบก: Krom Arkartsayan Taharn Bok) is a moderately-well equipped force with relatively modern aircraft. Consist of 171 fighter planes & 77 bombers; a mixture of several French, American and the locally-made ones.
After seeing the first aircraft demonstration in Bangkok, King Rama VI was sufficiently impressed that on 28 February 1912 he sent three Army officers to France to learn to fly. After receiving their wings and qualification, the officers returned to Siam in November 1913, bringing with them eight aircraft: four Breguets and four Nieuport IVs). In March 1914, Thai aviation moved from Sapathum to Don Mueang then north of Bangkok.
The RSAS saw their first combat during the Weltkrieg in 1919 during the Raid of Phnom Penh and proved to be a crucial asset to the war effort as the French colonial garrisons were under-armed at that time. However, they actually achieved their first air-to-air-victories in dogfights against the Royal Air Force over Penang in the Malaya front.
The Kingdom of Siam,
- has friendly relations with the German Empire, the Empire of Japan and the United States of America.
- maintains an intense rivalry with the Kingdom of Burma, and dislikes Yunnan Clique, and the Bharathiyan Commune.